A Zen tale that raises the question about the heavens and hells that we create for ourselves.
The bones of the story:
- A samurai approached a master, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”
- “Who are you?” inquired the master.
- “I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.
- “You, a soldier!” exclaimed the master. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”
- The samurai became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but the master continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”
- As the master drew his sword the master remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!”
- At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.
- “Here open the gates of paradise,” said the master.
- Zen flesh, zen bones : a collection of Zen and pre-Zen writings by Reps, Paul, 1895-1990; Senzaki, Nyogen, p72.
- Spinning Tales, Weaving Hope: Stories, Storytelling, and Activities for Peace, Justice and the Environment Paperback by Ed Brody (Editor), Jay Goldspinner (Editor), Katie Green (Editor), Rona Leventhal (Editor), Holly Near (Foreword), p113.